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Suspension provides a decently comfy ride at all speeds

While the company bills it as its first crossover, the maker rather overlooks the original HRV produced in three and five-door guises between 1998 and 2006.

Honda may have been premature with the first-generation HRV because the crossover segment had yet to develop.

With boxy looks and peak UK sales of just 4,683 in 2000, dropping to only 46 in its final year, the first HRV was never a seminal game changer.

Will this new HRV be any different? Certainly its curvy, rakish styling is anything but boxy and it is actually not a bad looker.

However, concealing the rear door handles is a card that’s been played several times before and few if any will be fooled into mistaking it for a three-door coupé.

Priced from £17,995, the HRV will arrive in UK showrooms later this month with a 130bhp 1.5-litre petrol and a 120bhp 1.6-litre turbo-diesel.

Both come with a six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels, although a CVT automatic (a simulated seven-speed with gear change paddles behind the steering wheel) is an option with the petrol engine.

Honda expects a largely equal split in sales between the petrol and turbo-diesel versions.

Unfortunately, four-wheel-drive fans are out of luck.

All-wheel drive is available in other markets but not in the UK.

From a purely driving perspective, the smooth-shifting manual is the transmission of choice.

In petrol form it also outperforms the CVT, its 0 to 60mph time of 10.2 seconds being slightly quicker.

For what it’s worth the manual’s 121mph top speed is also 4mph faster too.

However, if most of your driving is short hops around town or in traffic, the CVT counters with better fuel economy (52.3mpg against the manual’s 49.6mpg) and lower emissions (125g/km against 134g/km).

In automatic form the petrol is easy to drive and the seven electronically simulated gear ratios can be quite fun if you’re in the mood.

This manual control can also be handy for holding a lower ratio during steep descents, although the Early Downshift During Braking system also assists in such situations.

If you’ve not driven a CVT before you may find it takes some getting used to.

A prod on the accelerator pedal causes the engine to rev highly without any apparent correlation to speed.

Transmission wise, it essentially drives much like a twist-and-go scooter, and that’s something that may not appeal, especially because this petrol engine isn’t the quietest or most refined.

In our personal experience, the automatic fared less well, its trip computer recording 37.7mpg against the manual version’s 40.4mpg, although circumstances dictated the CVT was driven much harder on far more challenging roads.

If economy’s your thing then, of the petrols, the CVT is probably the one to go for. But that’s without considering the turbo-diesel.

It may be 10bhp less powerful but it provides a more relaxing power delivery while also boasting a lot more grunt at much lower revs.

Depending on spec, the diesel gets from 0 to 60mph almost a second sooner than the auto petrol version and has a 119mph top speed.

The diesel is also well ahead of the petrol variants on economy and emissions.

Officially it returns 70.6mpg, while emissions are just 108g/km. The new HRV drives tidily too.

You don’t get much feedback through the steering wheel but the car goes where it’s pointed, grips well enough and behaves itself on a curvy road without undue body roll.

The suspension provides a decently comfy ride at all speeds and it’s not unduly fazed by rough cobbles or manhole covers, and there are no qualms about the brakes either.

Although perhaps not the most scintillating car to drive, the HRV is pretty hard to fault and is at least a match for its rivals.

Inside, the dash, instruments and controls are neatly arranged but the interior is conservatively designed by contemporary standards (and by the standard of the HRV’s exterior).

THAT said it’s comfortable and for the most part very roomy. That rakish roofline doesn’t permit an excess of rear-seat headroom but leg and knee room is generous for a so-called sub-compact car.

There are four spec grades, starting with S which comes with 16-inch alloys, DAB radio, Bluetooth, climate and cruise control and more.

Then there’s SE which adds 17-inch alloys and Honda’s Connect infotainment system.

The SE Navi grade adds Garmin navigation while the EX boasts smart entry, a panoramic opening glass roof, a rear-view camera, leather/heated seats and LED headlamps.

As you’d expect from any Honda the quality of materials, fit and finish is exemplary, although an irritating whistling noise from the wipers (while at rest) at motorway speeds did blot an otherwise clean copybook.

As also seen in the Jazz supermini, Honda’s innovative Magic Seat system, facilitated by a flat fuel tank located under the front seats, allows a variety of useful stowage-space options, while the boot’s capacity ranges from 470 to 1,533 litres.

Of the engine variants it’s hard to not recommend the diesel, especially if you rack up a high mileage.

Trouble is, makers still place a premium on oil-burners and the HRV diesel is no exception at almost £1,000 more than the equivalent petrol.

Similarly, the more frugal CVT pertrol is also almost £1,000 pricier than the manual.

Overall, the HRV is a cleverly conceived and pleasing package. What’s for sure though is that it should be easily more popular than its predecessor.

Engine range: Petrol – 1.5-litre; Turbo-diesel – 1.6-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph from 10.2 seconds, 121mph top speed (1.5)

Rivals: Kia Sportage, MazdaCX-5, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Yeti, Suzuki SX4